Moving Ahead

When we can’t see where we’re going, we naturally veer slightly to the right. That way we go in a big circle and end up at the place we started, and we won’t get lost. Lately, I’ve felt like I’ve been walking in circles like this (metaphorically, of course). And I think it has to do with a lack of focus and not being able to see a goal.

In September I had quite a lot of projects, and I would work on (almost) all of them when I felt like it. The result was that I got exhausted from splitting my attention between school, writing and other activities. In the end I just ran between the tasks that demanded my attention, and my creative projects rarely made the top of that list.

Honestly I don’t feel like I have that much to show for September, at least I don’t feel like it is proportional to the amount of effort and energy I’ve spent. And so I feel like I’ve walked in a circle: I have covered a great distance, but without actually getting anywhere.

This month though, I want to be more goal-oriented. One thing I wanted to do is to write for my blog… et voila! I hope better planning on my part will help me prioritize and make progress in the things I want to do. Last month, I had a great many things I wanted to do, but I hadn’t set actual goals for any of it. So I want to set goals for this month that are realistic, and tangible. And hopefully I will be able to move forward in the month of October.

Keeping Momentum

When I sit down to write for the first time in a while, everything is slow. I can’t quite figure out what to write, ideas won’t fit together, and I have a hard time expressing what I want to and finding the right words. Its like trying to get out of an armchair after sitting in an awkward position, and you discover (possibly a moment to late) that your legs have fallen asleep. Its uncomfortable at first, and you feel like you’re walking on pins for a moment, but as soon as the blood flow is normal again everything works perfectly.

And that’s the same way with writing, you have to let your creativity flow and keep your momentum. I don’t think you necessarily have to write a ton everyday to keep your momentum, a few words on a story or some plotting might be enough. But you can’t let the flow stop.

For me, these blogposts might be enough writing for one day. At least my fingers got to write on a keyboard, and my thoughts could flow out in the form of words. This is still utilizing the same muscles that I use when I am writing creatively. It’s about keeping momentum, not about blazing ahead at high speed.

It’s Not Nothing

So what do you do when you’ve been running around for 16 hours straight? Sleep. I really want to sleep. But I also wanted to write something here today. I didn’t know if I would have the time, and I haven’t really. But now, just before I collapse for the evening: I’m writing this.

It isn’t much, but it’s something. Sometimes you don’t have the privilege of choosing not to do something. Obligations and duty calls, and you just have to roll with the punches. That means you actually won’t have time to do all the things you want to get done, and it’s tempting to just leave it at that. But I figured I’d write this post. And it isn’t a bad topic, really: I sat down at the computer and I’m writing something, and that means I’ve written more than I would have otherwise. So even though I couldn’t write what I wanted to write, at the very least: I’ve flexed my fingers.

The Importance of Incentive

It’s difficult to get anything done. Especially if you don’t really have to. I spent so many years thinking of different stories, writing a chapter or perhaps a first act and then putting it down when the going gets tough.

Even now: I planned to work on my second draft this September and October, but this is September 6th, and I haven’t even started. I wrote the first draft during camp nanowrimo this summer, and it was all for that lovely little graph on my page. Each time It’s such a small thing, but it worked, I’m both delighted and ashamed to say. Is that really all that was needed? A visual aid?

I guess the key is that it is external, and it is what it is no matter what. If I have written 1000 words, I have written 1000 words. No more, no less. I think that gives me an anchor to reality. When writing you really have to get into your own head, and it is easy to get lost in there. Ideas that I’d rather write come from nowhere, I spend hours thinking of names for places or characters, and I fuss over details.

But having to keep a move on helps me get out of that rut. I can’t spend two hours on figuring out what this walk-on characters name is, I just have to call him Bob and keep going. But then September comes, and I realize that Bob isn’t a good name for this character. I don’t have much experience with revision, so I don’t really know how to find that carrot or stick to keep me moving.

Inspiration

Where do you get your inspiration? And how important is it? Creativity and the artist has long been connected in peoples minds by this misty veil of mystery. Inspiration is seen as a sudden flash of genius that will rocket your art into existence. This idea is beautiful bu it can also be detrimental to aspiring artists who spend all their time staring out a window, waiting for that flash of inspiration.

The trend nowadays seem to shift more towards demystifying inspiration, and placing a lot more value on the actual work of creating. The nitty gritty: techniques, developing a routine, helpful equipment and so on… This sort of environment among people and online has helped me a lot in developing and in my attempts at disciplining myself. I’m not afraid of the mystery of the artist. I feel like “the artist” as a concept is beginning to be more like the greeks concept of a painter or a poet: a craftsman. Simply someone who’s good at their craft. A part of me really like that idea: creating things out of thoughts, feelings and impressions like a potter might make a vase.

I do think inspiration is very important to, don’t get me wrong. But I feel like it is more of a continuous thing, the process of living is the same as finding inspiration: Meeting people and talking to them, taking in new impressions trough art, nature, philosophy or science. And as I work more and more like that potter making a vase, these experiences turn into material for new stories.

Guilt

It’s difficult sometimes to know wether my prioritizing is reasonable or not. Am I spending to much time in one area? Have I taken on to much? Am I wasting to much time? Right now I’m trying to get some sort of overview of this semester, and find that the minute I feel like I have nailed something down: something else pops up with a deadline I can’t possibly meet now.

In all of that I feel like it’s difficult to justify sitting down and spending time I could have used on something else on writing. Even if I actually do sit down, it can be difficult to concentrate and write anything. Stress and guilt get in my way.¬†Am I a bad person for saying no to meeting my friends to spend time writing? Should I be more diligent as a student? Probably yes? To an extent, at least.

All my life I’ve hated that image of the artist who only cares about their projects and don’t give a damn about anybody else. Yet now I’m starting to see the point of that. Of course, I don’t want to be a bad person, or be terrible to others. But prioritizing what you do is important to get anywhere. That was much easier for me this past summer, when there where few distractions. But now I have to find a whole new balance. I’m glad I had that experience this summer, though, because it made me realize that actually choosing your art over other things yields results.